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15+ Career Goals For Nurses

Nurses and nurse practitioners are an important part of our healthcare system. It is the job of nurses to provide medical care for patients, educate people on how to manage their health, and help people who do not have access to quality healthcare.

If you are a nurse practitioner or registered nurse looking for career goals and professional goals, this blog post is just what you need!

Even as a nurse, it’s is important to have a professional development plan with achievable goals. Setting SMART goals will help you advance your career in a realistic and targeted way. The first step is to decide what you want to work towards.

Here are 15 career goals that will allow you to grow in your career as a nurse while helping others at the same time.

15+ Career Goals For Nurses

Advance your degree.

Most nurses start out in an entry-level position as their first job.

For those working as a nursing assistant, entering a nursing program to become an RN is the best way to grow; you’ll want to start by preparing for the entrance exams, and you can even continue to work while you’re in school.

A master’s degree can complement your bachelor’s degree and add to your understanding of human physiology, as well as help you be more effective in the workplace.

A higher level of education may improve your nursing knowledge and abilities, give you the legal authority to serve more patient care responsibilities, and boost your salary potential.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse with a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, consider earning your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). An APRN license allows you to assess, diagnose, and develop treatment plans for patients.

An advanced degree can up-level your long-term goals in the nursing profession.

Improve your patient care techniques.

One of a nurse’s first aims is to offer high-quality care to their patients.

Consider how you might improve the way you deliver current patient care or procedures.

You may, for example, strive to be a better advocate for your patient’s particular requirements.

You can also improve your career prospects by working on how you work with other members of the healthcare team.

Be a team player.

A successful nurse is able to function as part of their medical care team and integrate seamlessly into new situations, whether they are caring for one patient or many at once.

Working well within the existing system proves that you are able to adapt quickly and work with others.

Take on more responsibilities.

Nurses can improve their career prospects by taking on more responsibilities within the hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility where they work.

You may be given new tasks that you need to complete successfully before receiving greater responsibility in the future. Or you may be able to complete tasks in addition to your regular job.

Strengthen your interpersonal skills.

Improve your communication skills with patients, doctors, and other nurses you collaborate with on a daily basis.

The majority of nurses use many channels to communicate, including written and verbal conversations. Learn to express yourself as clearly as possible.

You may also practice paying attention while listening and reading medical records carefully.

Pay attention to a patient’s or medical expert’s physical reactions when interacting with them.

If you notice your patient tensing their shoulders, inquire whether they’re uncomfortable and whether there is anything you can do to assist.

Obtain professional certifications.

Obtain nursing certifications. Professional nursing organizations frequently provide a wide range of nursing qualifications.

A certification that demonstrates your mastery of a certain skill, such as first aid or clinical research techniques, is an option.

You could look into enrolling in a certificate program that focuses on a particular nursing specialty or unit, such as pediatrics or oncology. You could also work in an emergency room and intensive care unit for more varied experience.

Work in a rural area or be a travel nurse.

A career as a travel nurse can present many benefits. You will gain valuable experience, while having the chance to explore different areas of the country and world! Another benefit is the potential for higher pay rates, which can be accompanied by included accommodations during your assignments. Find travel nurse housing options in this article.

Travel nurses have unique experience in adaptability, balancing their personal life, and working in specific areas.

Work in an area with limited access to healthcare.

By working for organizations like Doctors Without Borders or providing volunteer work through your local Red Cross chapter you can help people get access to quality medical care.

Become a nurse educator.

For nurses looking to expand their careers into education or improve their ability to guide the next generation of healthcare professionals, enhancing teaching skills is paramount. Developing a deep understanding of how to effectively transfer knowledge and skills in a medical setting is key. A great way for nurses at all levels to improve their medical teaching skills can lead towards becoming an influential mentor and educator within the healthcare industry.

The career of a nurse educator is one that requires you to be an effective communicator and teacher, as well as possessing strong technical knowledge from your own nursing career.

If this sounds like the career path for you then consider enrolling in an MSN program with a focus on education or taking on a career as an adjunct faculty member at your local college or university.

Take on administrative responsibilities.

You can improve your career prospects by taking on administrative responsibilities within the hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility where you work.

You may be given new tasks that you need to complete successfully before receiving greater responsibility in the future. Or you may be able to complete tasks in addition to your regular job.

Learn leadership skills.

As a career nurse you can improve career prospects by learning leadership skills, which enhances the value of other nursing qualifications and experience that comes from being part of an organization’s management or administration team.

Having strong leadership skills will make you stand out, especially as you progress in your career.

Taking on a leadership role can also help you connect with people in the nursing field which can help you advance your career.

Teach others about your favorite healthcare specialty area if it interests you.

If teaching is something that interests and excites you, consider becoming an instructor for continuing education classes or seminars on medical topics of interest to other nurses so they can increase their career prospects.

Many nurses are committed to lifelong learning – and this is a way to pay it forward.

Volunteer in a community organization.

Consider volunteering for community organizations while you’re working as a career nurse.

Your experience will be beneficial to your career prospects and can help you develop new skills that may lead to career advancement opportunities down the road.

Specialize in a field.

Nurses can specialize in any area of nursing that interests them, including emergency care or critical care. You might also consider specializing in an area that you have experience with to grow your career options even more.

Explore career development opportunities at the hospital where you work. If there are training programs available for nurses who wish to develop their skills further, you could ask your employer if they are available to you.

Work in a hospital that specializes in your favorite healthcare discipline. If you want to work with children but don’t think there are any pediatric hospitals near where you live and work then look into the possibility of working at a hospital that specializes in a career discipline you would enjoy.

You might be surprised at what you find!

Do in-service sessions.

Attend any in-service sessions, workshops, or job shadowing events if they are available at your workplace.

In-service training may help you improve your nursing abilities, learn new industry standards, or gain knowledge about a special nursing discipline.

If your present hospital or medical center doesn’t provide in-service courses, speak with other nurses and healthcare professionals to see if they have any suggestions for continuing education opportunities.

Look into career development courses or workshops at your local college or university.

Even though the career path of a nurse is very different from that of an academic, you can still benefit by learning about business management skills and administration in order to improve career prospects down the road.

Find a mentor, be a mentor.

Mentorship doesn’t have to be formal to be valuable. Work with someone a few years ahead of you and a few years behind you to establish a relationship, trust, and future goals together.

The person ahead of you can help lead your career while you help lead the career of the person behind you. It’s a win-win-win all around.

Stay up-to-date on medical technology and research.

Keep up with the latest medical technology and research to continue improving career prospects as a nurse.

By regularly checking out industry magazines, newsletters, and online resources you can update yourself on new treatments for different conditions or procedures that may improve patient care outcomes.

Diversify your knowledge.

Consider working in an area of healthcare outside your primary focus. If you’ve been working exclusively in one area of nursing, such as cardiac care or mental health, consider moving to an entirely different department for career advancement opportunities.

For instance, you can try pharmaceutical nursing, considering its rising popularity in the last few years. Pharmacy nurses instruct patients on the proper and safe use of drugs, including co-morbid conditions, contraindications, and advantages and disadvantages.

Luckily, there are plenty of sources to learn from, be it from hard copy literature or online informative platforms such as PrescriberPoint

In Summary: Career Goals For Nurses

Being a nurse is a special and unique career path. You help people through some of their most physically and emotionally vulnerable times. The care you provide matters.

Setting nursing career goals may seem overwhelming at first, but by setting short-term goals first, you’ll be on your way to a higher position.

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.